Tony award winning Hamilton is one of my fave musicals I’ve never seen yet. So I checked on YouTuber Peter Hollens to see if he had taken a shot at it. Lo and behold, there was the tribute video. So here is Hollens and company with a medley of hit from Hamilton.
One of my favorite animated films is Disney’s Beauty and the Beast released in 1991. Twenty-six years later, Disney decided to release a live action version. Naturally I wonder why they would want to do that when they had already achieved perfection? Still my curiosity is piqued, so I will go see it. I’ll tell you what I think.
In the meantime, you can compare the two versions of the title song. Here is the official 1991 video with Peabo Bryson and Celine Dion.
Ariana Grande and John Legend perform the new 2017 release. It is more lushly produced. What do you think?
Got waylaid last week, but thanks to antibiotics I’m back on track. So here I am, awake at 12:48 AM on a Sunday morning waiting for the clocks to change to Daylight Savings Time (I’m pro) and sifting through YouTube for something “serene.” Then I began reminiscing about my parents’ voluminous record collection and the ones I enjoyed.
For Once in My Life, as a song, isn’t technically in my top 10 list of best songs even though it’s been covered by many artists. Even when Stevie Wonder popularized it in 1967, I never cared for the upbeat rendition. Why? Because Jean DuShon’s version had captivated me first.
According to our pal Wiki, the demo of the song was recorded as a ballad by Barbara McNair but first released by DuShon in 1966. Then through DuShon lost the right to sing it.
“Jean DuShon was one of the singers who was originally tapped by Ron Miller to demo the song as he was fine-tuning the composition. Miller was impressed by DuShon’s rendition, and her version, produced by Esmond Edwards, was issued as a single on Chess Records’ Cadet label in October 1966. It was chosen “Pick Hit of the Week” by Detroit’s WXYZ radio. Although the record label gave the sole songwriting credit to Murden, Motown CEO Berry Gordy discovered that Miller – who was contracted to Motown – had co-written the song, and reportedly asked Chess not to promote the single. DuShon dropped “For Once in My Life” from her nightclub act and later said: “It was a very big disappointment in my life. I stopped singing it ‘cause I didn’t have the song. I didn’t have anything. It wasn’t mine anymore.””
DuShon’s version was overshadowed and forgotten which is unfortunate. It was DuShon’s powerhouse singing and the soaring orchestral arrangement that gave the lyrics the deep soulfulness it required. Some people may prefer a simpler version but I’m a sucker for power ballads. As the joke goes, “back in my day, singers could sing, and we liked it.”
By the way, my record was broken during the move. Thank goodness for YouTube.
Two of my favorite Whoopi Goldberg comedies are Sister Act and Sister Act 2 made in the early 1990s. Goldberg plays a lounge singer in 1968 who is placed in protective custody as a convent nun in order to escape a mob boss. Sister Act was popular, grossing 231 million worldwide. The soundtrack album debuted at #74 and eventually reached #40 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart where it charted for 54 weeks. Having attended parochial schools from the 8th grade starting in the early ’70’s (complete with nuns in full habit), this movie struck a chord with me.
One of the issues facing the Catholic Church today is how to make religion relevant to current times. In the movie, Whoopi as Delois, demonstrates one way by using music with a modern flair to attract young people to the church. The resulting choir scene is fun.
When I was a child, my parents still listened to 78 rpm records. (Now if you don’t know what those are, don’t feel bad. Record companies had stopped pressing them by the time I was born. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. *Cough*)
Anyway, I inherited the collection which included many jazz greats. My favorite was “After Hours” performed by Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, and Sonny Rollins. There was something about the sensuous horns and tinkling of the ivories that caught my attention. The 78 version was a bit shorter than this LP version (remember those) found on YouTube. Listen and you can see why these gentlemen were considered among the best at what they did.
We are five weeks from the start of the official holiday season in U.S. Interestingly, Pachelbel’s Canon in D comes to mind because I usually hear it played around the holidays. So who is Pachelbel and why is this piece heard at Christmas? My old pal Wiki states the following:
“Pachelbel’s Canon is the name commonly given to a canon by the German Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel in his Canon and Gigue for 3 violins and basso continuo (German: Kanon und Gigue für 3 Violinen mit Generalbaß) (PWC 37, T. 337, PC 358), sometimes referred to as Canon and Gigue in D or simply Canon in D. Neither the date nor the circumstances of its composition are known (suggested dates range from 1680 to 1706), and the oldest surviving manuscript copy of the piece dates from the 19th century.
Pachelbel’s Canon, like Pachelbel’s other works, although popular during his lifetime, soon went out of style, and remained in obscurity for centuries thereafter. A 1968 arrangement and recording of it by the Jean-François Paillard chamber orchestra became unexpectedly popular over the next decade, and in the 1970s the piece began to be recorded by many ensembles; by the early 1980s its presence as background music was deemed inescapable. From the 1970s to the early 2000s, elements of the piece, especially its chord progression, were used in a variety of pop music songs. Since the 1980s, it has also been used frequently in weddings and funeral ceremonies in the Western world.”
To paraphrase, Pachelbel was known as a composer and organist during his lifetime but today is known for his church and chamber music. In 1968, the Jean-François Paillard chamber orchestra made a recording of the piece. A classical San Francisco radio played it in 1970 which garnered many requests. In 1974, London Records, aware of the interest in the piece, reissued a 1961 album of the CorelliChristmas Concerto performed by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, which happened to contain the piece, now re-titled to Pachelbel Kanon: the Record That Made it Famous and other Baroque Favorites. The album was the highest-selling classical album of 1976.
Happy first Sunday in March. This month supposedly will herald the first days of spring but as far as I can see, snow rules. We’ve still got the now black mounds from the blizzard and expect more of the refresh white stuff today. Friends are in town to visit (read: check up on me). Two nights ago, we saw Million Dollar Quartet which really got the house rocking. The cast did a fine job of impersonating Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Peggy Lee. So all that 1950’s music made me think of …. John Denver. (My friend tuned into a ’70’s station on the drive to the theater, so the association makes perfect sense.) One of Denver’s biggest hits was Take Me Home Country Roads, which makes a serene enough song for today.
I’m behind in writing again. While looking for the Catholic hymn “Kyrie,” I came upon this song “Kyrie Eleison” by Mr. Mister. “Kyrie, eleison” (or “Lord, have mercy”) is a liturgical response of the people to intentions mentioned in the Prayer of the Faithful. Mr. Mister used the phrase for this 1985 hit. Even though I’m no longer Christian, it’s spiritual message somehow strikes a chord.
The wind blows hard against this mountainside
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road
My heart is old, it holds my memories
My body burns a gem-like flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again
Down the road that I must travel
Through the darkness of the night
Where I’m going, will you follow?
On a highway in the light
When I was young, I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be
Down the road that I must travel
Through the darkness of the night
Where I’m going, will you follow?
On a highway in the light
I know you’re thinking, “Judiang, Christmas is OVER!” But wait – Jingle Bells is not a holiday song. There’s nothing in it about Christmas. It describes fun while dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh with an iffy horse. According to my pal Wiki, James Lord Pierpont published the song in 1857 as “One Horse Open Sleigh.” Over the years, it came to be associated with Christmas. However, this is a winter ditty to be enjoyed all season especially with snow on the ground. Here are the original 1857 lyrics; nobody knows when the modern verses were introduced.
Dashing thro’ the snow,
In a one-horse open sleigh,
O’er the hills we go,
Laughing all the way;
Bells on bobtail ring,
Making spirits bright, Oh what sport to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight.
|: chorus 😐 Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way; Oh! what joy it is to ride In a one-horse open sleigh.
A day or two ago
I tho’t I’d take a ride
And soon Miss Fannie Bright
Was seated by my side.
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And we—we got upsot. |: chorus 😐
A day or two ago,
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away, |: chorus 😐
Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls tonight
And sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bob-tailed bay
Two forty is his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack, you’ll take the lead. |: chorus 😐
I’ve been fascinated by the idea of taking a sleigh ride since childhood. City folk don’t do sleigh rides down State Street (unless there’s a Great Blizzard). I’ve been been on a sleigh or I even a sled for that matter. So, take my love of snow, a sleigh, and add very warm clothes and it should be heaven, right? I suggested this to my suburban friends who looked at me blankly, then sighed as if to say, “where do city folk get these ideas?” They didn’t nix the idea, so I’m hopeful.
Happy New Year all! Hope you enjoyed your holidays. Mine was festive and filling – very filling – which leads me to one of two resolutions I made. Usually I resolve to not make resolutions because I’ll be sure to keep that one. But this year I really need to accomplish two things. The second is to lose the all the weight gained during my dark period. I’ve done it before and will do it again.
The first is to WRITE. Dr. G. mandated that I park my butt and put fingers to the keyboard. Every day. One story. One paragraph. One word. It doesn’t matter what about what as long as I discipline myself to get the words out and over the dreaded Writer’s Block. I’d love to talk about whatshisname, that Armitage dude, but first I need to examine what’s obstructing the flow. Then I’ll tackle The Crucible, RA’s surprising effect on me, the Marlise Boland debacle, my final opinion on Thorin, a certain blog nomination, and my place in fandom now.
So this is me, writing. You, Dear Reader, will keep me honest. Go ahead. Hold my feet to the fire. This is important.
In honor of the fresh snow on the ground, the oncoming winter storm, and my love of the fluffy stuff, I present a favorite song probably posted already, but hey, this is a new January. So here is Winter Wonderland sung by Johnny Mathis.
On Saturday nights, the family would gather together and watch movies on the only television. (Yes, I’m dating myself here.) One night Elmer Gantry, about a wayward conman taking advantage of a simple religious town, televised. The incomparable Burt Lancaster played the conman. Towards the beginning of the movie, he sang “I’m On My Way to Canaan’s Land.” Our pal Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry for it but suffice it to say, it began as a an old negro spiritual. It was sung frequently during the Civil Rights marches of the 1960’s. I recall it’s upbeat swingy rhythm that made it a joyful song to hear. Lancaster starts singing at about 0:48.
I’m not a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy although I’ve seen all the movies. (Yes, somehow the mystique of Middle Earth escaped me). So I had to be reminded about the following song. A few listenings later, it’s clearly a great pick for Serene Sunday. So enjoy May It Be, sung by Enya.
Recently, Linda Ronstadt announced that she has multiple sclerosis and can no longer sing. She’d had symptoms for seven or eight years but was diagnosed only recently because of voice issues. The news shocked and devastated her as well as fans around the world. I felt deeply saddened because she was one of the truly great voices of her time in the ’70s and ’80s. Today in the era of wannabe singers and auto-tuning, Linda had an amazing vocal range from rock (When Will I Be Loved) to operatic (Pirates of Penzance).
So today, I present her Roy Orbison cover, Blue Bayou, which hit #3 on the the Billboard 100 in 1977.
I’ve completely fallen asleep at the switch in publicizing KRA week. However, I hope to redeem myself with a post about Richard III in my own strange fashion tomorrow. Stay tuned. In the meantime, KRA 2013 Week is in its 5 day! Head over to the KRA fan initiative website here for more and take part in the yearly quizz. You can sign the petition here.
I’ve just made the mistake of drinking a strong latte with my meds; saying LOUD HEAD BANGING MUSIC fits my mood is an understatement. However, that’s not “serene.” Hold on, let me play some Mozart. Ahhh. Okay, where was I?
As a child when I bothered to rise early on Saturdays to watch cartoons, I watched old Warner Bros. features such as Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker. The show’s creators played concertos from operas during the long scenes. I started humming along to the cool music, not knowing that it was the old fogy, classical variety that made me yawn and fall asleep any other time. Advertising agencies also cashed in on the concept, disguising classical songs as pop tunes.
Here is one of my earliest memories, Woody Woodpecker singing “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.”
My two best pals visited for a week. For a change of pace, I suggested an overnighter in Galena, a scenic historical village in northwest Illinois. It was home of President U.S. Grant and has buildings dating back to the 1820’s although following a fire in 1856, most are pre-civil war. For the American Midwest, this is pretty old town. My friends navigated and drove while I lounged in the back seat. They probably thought I was sleeping. I did- a bit; but mostly I pondered the joys of true friendship. For 17 years, they have stuck by me through thick and thin, weathered my depression and whiplash mood swings, and come running whenever I cried for help. I didn’t gush my gratitude, but I certainly felt happy and thankful for their presence in my life. Love you gals.
Hello again, Dear Readers. I’m instituting a new regimen that includes dedicated writing. I must write something – anything – no matter how long or short. There’s a two-fold purpose: 1) to get back in the habit of writing, and 2) to move from writing for self-distraction to writing as a way of life? hobby? goal? So bear with me if things seem a bit scattered for the next few weeks. This is mental rehab unfolding before your eyes.
New readers, I’ve always dedicated Sundays to inspirational music. I’m no longer religious, but still enjoy the songs. You can read about why here. As I sat here wracking my brains for a new entry I haven’t covered, it occurred to me that classical tunes also inspire. My older self chuckles because the younger me used to find classical music boring and stuffy until learning that many pieces have been translated into modern songs. My gym classes exercised to Strauss waltzes in primary school. Clever way to introduce a genre to children, yes?
Anyway, the following composition came to mind: Mozart’s Piano Concerto 21 in C Major. It’s difficult to describe music but this piece is so beautiful it gives me goosebumps. It subtly marches while calming, soothing and uplifting. It’s something my mind needs – to march forward, slowly and quietly. Baby steps still.
My pal, Wiki, says:
The Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467, was completed on March 9, 1785 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, four weeks after the completion of the previous D minor concerto, K. 466.
This is only an excerpt. The entire composition is over 30 minutes long. Enjoy.
Richard Armitage thinks about his holiday gift list at the NYC premiere. Courtesy of richardarmitagenet.com
Another day when this intrepid reporter can do Real Life stuff. The Christmas season is in full swing and I’ve done nothing. Sure, I played Pissy Elf for friends over Thanksgiving weekend, helping them decorate FOUR trees, but I’ve done nothing at home. So, my own tree rises like the Sphinx today, come hell or high water.
As you may know, I start obsessively playing holiday music in the middle of November. Doesn’t everybody? But with The Hobbit tour blitz and wall-to-wall RA coverage, I’ve not even blogged a single holiday song yet. Oi!
Anyway, every time a certain song plays in my list, I starting thinking. (This might not always be a good thing, but bear with me). I begin visualizing a certain person singing a certain song. No, not O Holy Night, but Ave Maria, the Bach-Gunod version. How did you guess?
I’ve heard this song performed by many tenors, but not other voice types I can recall. However, because of the low, slow, tranquil movement of the music, I believe it can be done by other singers, such as a baritone, like say… RA. See how I segued to Serene Sunday there?
Think about it, Dear Reader, having heard him sing Lonely Mountain, don’t you think he could do Ave Maria? It requires more crooning than hitting very high notes; I think he could do it. Playing in the background is Ave Maria sung by Perry Como. He was a tenor who crooned most of his pieces. Gaze at the picture (hard work, I know), and imagine RA’s lower register, singing it.
My real life situation has required decisions concerning excepting the status quo or standing and fighting. Fortunately, doing the latter stood out like a neon sign. The problem has been gathering the mental energy to go the long haul.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Of course, you don’t have to be spiritual to understand the sage advice. I’ve found the most difficult part is accepting things I cannot change. Letting go of the desire to control a situation I cannot affect in any meaningful way is humbling. This segues to today’s video, Let It Be, by the Beatles.
It’s the Labor Day weekend for those in the US. This usually means the end of summer and wearing white. But with the strange weather this year, there’s no telling. Because I’m old, I’ve reached back to 1972 and Seals & Crofts with their #1 hit, Summer Breeze. Adieu, summer.